St Dominic's Sixth Form College

Highlighting best practice as a representative in The Parliamentary Review

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from St Dominic's Sixth Form College is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Principal Andrew Parkin with
Reem Ibrahim, co-editor of the
student magazine,
The Pulse
The Aquinas Building houses state of the
art science labs and the Study+ Centre
Catering for the educational needs of 1,350 students aged
between 16 and 18, St Dominic’s Sixth Form College
educate young men and women with a strong emphasis on
the importance of the Catholic faith, but within a truly diverse and
multi-faith setting. Principal Andrew Parkin discusses the college
ethos and mission, before explaining the root of itssuccess.
There has been a centre of learning on the Mount Park Avenue site, Harrow on the
Hill, since 1878 when the Dominican Sisters opened a small independent school for
girls. For the next one hundred years, the school successfully educated many young
ladies from northwest London until it eventually closed in 1978. A year later, at
the request of Basil Hume, who was a cardinal at the time, St Dominic’s Sixth Form
College was opened and, over the last 40 years, we have grown to become one of
the best-performing post-16 institutions in the country.
Our mission is to educate all our students to the highest academic standard, which
is underpinned by strong pastoral and spiritual support. We pride ourselves on
the importance of developing a broad range of academic skills that will equip our
students for the world of work in the 21st century but also aim to prepare them
to be purposeful and well-rounded members of society in an ever-evolving and
changing global environment.
The post-16 experience
We offer 30 subjects at A level and BTEC, and each year, on average, some 95
per cent of our students move on to university with around 45 per cent going to
Russell Group institutions. Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial, UCL, Warwick and Durham
»Principal: Andrew Parkin
»Founded in 1979
»Location: Harrow on the Hill,
»Type of school: Sixth form
»No. of students: 1,350
St Dominic’s Sixth
Form College
Highlighting best practice
are some of the universities that
our students are regularly awarded
places at with medicine, dentistry,
engineering and the humanities the
most popular course choices.
Our teachers are highly skilled
practitioners, specialising in Level 3
qualifications, and we constantly look
to innovate and develop our pedagogy
to ensure we remain at the forefront
of classroom practice. This enables our
students to have the very best teaching
and learning experience while they are
with us and is a significant factor in
their year-on-year academic success.
The post-16 experience is not,
however, just about the academic. It is
also about the enrichment, the extra-
curricular activities that bring young
men and women together from a wide
range of differing disciplines. Sports,
music, drama and volunteering all play
a significant part in the enrichment
life of St Dominic’s. Our Wednesday
afternoon activities programme affords
all our students the opportunity to
participate in something new and
different, and this is, without doubt,
a really popular part of the weekly
routine for students at the college.
The 2019/20 academic year marked the
40th anniversary of St Dominic’s Sixth
Form College, an occasion which we
were very proud to celebrate with the
whole community past and present.
We held many celebratory events,
including a lecture series that featured
eminent Catholics in the public eye,
and to bring the year to a close, we
commissioned Sir James MacMillan
to compose a piece of choral music
based on the text of the Dominican
saint Catherine of Siena. This will be
performed by the BBC Singers and
broadcast live from the college chapel
in June 2021, it having been postponed
due to the pandemic in June 2020.
Our success, our collaborative
The college is judged to be
“outstanding” by Ofsted and was
awarded the
The Sunday Times
Form College of the Year in 2017.
In 2019, we were the first Catholic
sixth form college nationally to be
inspected under the new Section 48
framework, and we were considered,
by the Archdiocese of Westminster, to
be an “outstanding” college against all
benchmarks. This was a moment we
were all proud of and the culmination
of a lot of hard work.
The college is outward facing and
an advocate of collaboration and the
developing of excellence through the
sharing of good practice. Over the
years we have developed excellent links
with a range of primary and secondary
schools locally and around the country
as well as with a network of other sixth
form colleges. We have close links with
schools in the US, France and Italy and
host regular exchanges for staff and
students from these countries.
The College Chapel
is at the heart of St
Dominic’s and was
built in 1926 by the
Dominican Sisters
Biology students achieve
some of the highest
grades in the country
Our mission is
to educate all
our students
to the highest
which is
by strong
pastoral and
Our students as future leaders
Our students are absolutely exemplary.
Their attendance, punctuality and
behaviour are outstanding, which
provides them with an excellent
foundation for a high-calibre learning
experience while they are with us at
StDominic’s. Due to the way our college
is structured, we do not have assemblies
– instead I email all our students each
Sunday evening with a reflection on the
gospel of the day or on other significant
events that are taking place at the time.
This method of communication enables
me to have a weekly dialogue with my
students to further foster and nurture the
ethos and mission of the college within
them as well as hopefully motivating
them to continue to work really hard.
Nurturing leadership skills among our
student body is an important feature
of the college. Each year we appoint a
head boy and girl, as well as a student
executive of six men and women
who meet fortnightly at 7.45am for
breakfast to review current issues
and events. We also have student
ambassadors, leaders of learning and
student council representatives who all
have a day-to-day leadership role across
the college both academically and
pastorally. Our students are an eclectic,
hard-working, focused and ambitious
group of men and women who always
seek to develop themselves in whatever
way they can. And, needless to say,
I am rightly very proud of them all as
they are true ambassadors of everything
that we aspire to be here at the college.
So what of the future?
It is understandable that schools and
colleges face challenges – the current
global emergency is a prime example
of this. However, we believe in looking
optimistically to the future to ensure
that while they are with us, our
students have the very best academic,
pastoral and spiritual experience
possible. We do all that we can to make
a difference to the life of each individual
student who chooses to attend
StDominic’s in order to ensure that
they have the range of skills suitable
for the future. We say that everything
they do for the two years they are at
StDominic’s is preparation for the next
40 years or more of their lives.
Of course, looking to the future, trying
to predict what the world will be like
in 25 years’ time is almost impossible
to do. But when we do look ahead,
we encourage aspiration, ambition,
personal responsibility and a willingness
to engage and work hard. We
encourage kindness, generosity of heart
and mind, a belief in social justice and
a real love for those around us – values
that are of utmost importance in society,
values that are at the heart of the
Christian gospel message. It is, I believe,
these gospel values that will ensure our
young men and women are ready for
the challenges of an uncertain world
– these will remain a constant while
everything else shifts around them. If
each young person leaves us with these
values embedded in their hearts and
minds, then we have done a good job,
and I will remain the very proud principal
of StDominic’s Sixth Form College.
The Eileen Carey Library
and Learning Centre
was refurbished and
expanded in 2015 and
is a popular and vibrant
learning space for
students at St Dominic’s
Our students are
an eclectic,
focused and
ambitious group
of men and
women who
always seek to
themselves in
whatever way
they can

This article was sponsored by St Dominic's Sixth Form College. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.